This article is a part of our Celebrate Black Makers content series designed to spotlight the stories and perspectives that our Black-owned supplier partners bring to the home industry.
Janelle Langford built a successful career for herself that has culminated in the founding of her own luxury home brand, Karen Jai Home. With a focus on sophisticated, luxe home accessories for the design-obsessed, her brand has become a reflection of her career journey as a publicist coupled with her commitment to being her authentic self.
Everything from the name “Karen Jai Home” to the company’s growth has been a natural progression for Janelle. For 15 years, she was a publicist who worked with celebrities like Lady Gaga, Nick Cannon, and the Kardashians. But Janelle was craving the creativity she had earlier in her career while working in the fashion industry. To scratch that itch, she taught herself design - creating her own patterns and playing with interior design styles until she found herself designing pillows.
During this period of creative self discovery, Janelle received surprising news from her adoptive mother and learned that her birth name was actually Karen - news one would typically be devastated or confused to learn in the middle of one’s life. Instead, she decided to lean into it and name her brand Karen Jai Home. With “Jai” being her nickname, she saw the name “Karen Jai Home” as a nod to taking her power back. “I had no intention of naming my brand ‘Janelle Langford Home,’” shared Janelle. “So it was actually a right on-time piece of information that really allowed me to harness and recreate my own identity.”
Janelle felt that it was important to keep her brand authentic to who she is, especially since that’s how she’s approached design choices for her own home. “I really wanted to create a collection that people could leverage to effortlessly elevate their homes,” noted Janelle.
Accessibility within design is also important to Janelle. She sees too often that people are often intimidated when it comes to making a design choice or declaring a design style. “I don’t think people should walk into a store and say, ‘Let me just have the whole living room’ because that’s not their style and they deserve to hone in on what their true style is and allow it to evolve and change,” shared Janelle. “We want to make it easy for people to develop who they want to be in their home and in their design style.” This led her to focus on home decor accessories and creating products that can make both a bold and unique statement while also feeling attainable.
Karen Jai Home home decor and accessories on Wayfair.